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Vanlife with Mandy, Chris & Ralph

If you're wondering how some people make money on the road, Chris and Mandy have an interesting and inspiring approach. These young osteopaths are working their way around Australia using their skills in rural towns all over the country.  

Tell us a bit about yourselves:

Hey guys, we are two Osteopaths from Melbourne who got sick of the daily city grind and wanted to create a new life for ourselves. We’ve been travelling the country for the last 8 months with our rescue dog Ralph taking our skills, knowledge and passion to remote communities all around Australia.

What made you decide to travel Australia in a van?

We were running our own clinic in busy Melbourne and despite it going really well we felt really unfulfilled. We had always dreamt of doing a big trip together and Australia has so much beauty that neither of us had seen before. Chris had already bought the van for weekend surf trips around Victoria so we started exploring the possibilities of living out of it. After a bit of research, we discovered this huge community on the road and immediately knew we wanted to do that! 

What were your initial thoughts on being travelling Osteopaths, and how were you going to make it work?

 We had no idea whether it would work out. Initially, we thought we would be working for other clinics in cities and towns all over the country. We came so close to not even taking our treatment table because it took up so much room. We both had dreams of taking osteopathy to far flung places but it was a lot harder to get off the ground than we anticipated. The first few places we advertised, we struggled to gain interest. We tried new strategies and really had to step out of our comfort zone and put ourselves out there and by the time we made it to Uluru we had it figured out. That was the first place our business really took off and it was such a special turning point in our trip. We look back at our first attempts now and realise how far off the mark we were, but in saying that we have learned so much and both grown as people because of it.

 How has it gone so far? What has surprised you the most?

Obviously we knew that healthcare in remote communities was fairly limited but we had no idea to what degree. Not only is there a lack of musculoskeletal pain options in most of these towns (Osteos, Physios etc) but sometimes these people have to wait weeks just to get a doctor’s appointment with their local GP. That has been the biggest surprise for us, and we have loved that we have been able to provide a solution to this problem, even if it is short term.

If someone else was in a similar field of work wanting to travel Australia, would you recommend it?

Absolutely. That’s half the reason we started this. There have been a lot of towns out there who have had no idea what an osteopath was. Now, the next time a healthcare practitioner comes through town, the community will have an understanding of what they do and how helpful they can be.

 How do you go travelling with Ralph, pros and cons?

We hit the jackpot with Ralphy boy. He is the best travel companion we could have hoped for. We were both apprehensive about taking a dog on a trip around Aus and the challenges it would present but having him with us has made this trip far more enjoyable than it would have been without him. Of course there are times it’s a bit restrictive, National Parks are obviously the biggest challenge. We have been extremely fortunate that we have always been able to find him a dog sitter so that we can explore all of the national parks we had heard and seen so much about. It means you’ve got to be more organized / social and proactive to try and track down people to look after him, particularly as most of these national parks are fairly remote.


-       He constantly makes us laugh and brings us so much joy

-       He gets us out of the van and active

-       He is a conversation starter and a great way to meet other people

-       He acts as a heater on cold nights and he gives the best cuddles

-       He makes us feel safer overnight in the bush, he’s always alert and watching out for wildlife (he has spotted numerous dingo’s, wild cats and campsite intruders)

-       He gives us someone else to talk to besides each other on long drives

There are so many pros but the biggest for us is knowing that we are giving him a great life and allowing him to see more of this country than most people. We also love when he gets zoomies on the beach after a long drive and makes anyone around him laugh.


The biggest is worrying about him. WA use a lot of 1080 bait for wild dingoes and it is fatal to dogs in a matter of minutes. There was a big chunk of the state where we constantly had to keep an eye on him or keep him on a tight lead (we tried a muzzle but he hated it, pulled off a great Bane from Batman look alike though)

-       Certain beaches aren’t dog friendly

-       National parks can be tricky for us to organize, especially overnight camping

-       We lose a bit of space in the van catering for his food, bed and toys.

-       We spend more money on dog sitters, his food and other necessities. As well as, petrol driving him to towns for dog sitting (sometimes over 100km)


Biggest challenges living on the road?

You cant escape the weather.

If it rains, you’re wet.

If its windy, you hide.

If the flies are out, they will test your spirit.

If the mozzies or midgies are bad, good luck sleeping.

A big challenge for us is having to leave places we really love because you’ve got to keep moving, otherwise, you’ll be on the road forever.


What are your go to meals for the day? 

 Chris is a bit of a wiz in the kitchen and loves creating new and exciting meals. Breakfast for us is either fruit with yoghurt and all the trimmings (nuts, coconut etc) or scrambled eggs on toast, occasionally with some bacon or mushrooms thrown in (depends what’s on special at the supermarket, every penny counts). Lunch is either a sandwich or smoothie. Dinner is different every day but some of our favourites are fish or vegie curry, tacos, any form of pasta and we love a good stir fry. Our favourite meal of the trip was fresh caught fish tacos up in northern WA, we had them multiple days in a row.

If you were to travel Australia again, what vehicle would you do it in?

 Something we learnt this trip is that could never do a rooftop tent, wind and rain is a killer for them. Which kind of rules out all 4WD options except a Troopie or a Delica. If we were to do another lap we would want to see some more remote 4WD places so it would most likely be a Troopie but if we had unlimited cash we would get a 4wd Toyota Coaster or an IVECO truck. Alsoo ....we like the idea of being able to escape the elements inside a little bit more without being too immobile in a huge vehicle. We recently bought an old ‘92 Toyota coaster short wheel base and we have plans to put an old postie bike on the back so we can leave the bus at camp and go exploring on the bike. Or Chris can go for a surf or fishing mission on the bike while Mandy and Ralph stay in bed in the bus. It’s a pretty exciting concept so we can’t wait to hit the road in our new bus “Bussell Coight”.  Bring on Buslife!

Follow their journey on Instagram at @outbackosteos

Chris and Mandy use the Willow Rug and Arizona Rug on their adventures around Australia. 


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